If you ever doubted the power of local radio station KEXP, consider Of Monsters and Men. The band formed in 2010 in Iceland and played the Iceland Airwaves festival that year to a small but appreciative audience.
It was there that a group of KEXP staffers saw the band and decided to make a short video for the web. KEXP filmed the six-piece band rehearsing “Little Talks” in the living room of their apartment.
That video was posted to the KEXP website in October 2010. Within a few weeks it became a monster hit within KEXP and eventually on YouTube.
“I saw them once that year in Iceland, and five times since,” recalls Kevin Cole, KEXP DJ and programmer. “Each time, they convey a special magic and transcendence that few bands have.”
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Buoyed by the support of Cole and the rest of KEXP, the video eventually went viral, and led to a major label distribution deal with Universal. Their debut album, “My Head is an Animal,” came out in September 2011 and went to No. 6 on Billboard.
The album proportionally did even better in Seattle. “I heard about them first from Kevin Cole,” Matt Vaughan of Easy Street Records says. “We talked them up at the shop as a result. It was our No. 1 record for weeks and remained in our top 20 through all of 2012.”
All that Seattle love makes Tuesday’s show at the Paramount by Of Monsters and Men highly anticipated. It’s one of the biggest venues the band is playing as a headliner this year, though they’ll also be at the Bonnaroo (Tennessee) and Glastonbury (England) festivals this summer. The band was on “Saturday Night Live” this past week.
The success of their album has been so overwhelming that they still have not had time to record a follow-up. When they get off the road later this summer, they plan to go into the studio.
Until then, their videos on KEXP’s site and YouTube continue to be one of their best marketing tools.
“Videos from their various KEXP performances have been viewed over 15 million times,” says Cole. “Little Talks” is the third most viewed video on KEXP’s YouTube channel, ranked only behind songs by Florence and the Machine, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
The band’s unique instrumentation — they use accordion, glockenspiel and trumpet on some songs — makes the Paramount an ideal acoustic setting. Maybe the only better place to hear Of Monsters and Men would be their apartment.
If you can’t hear them in their living room, just go over to KEXP.org. There that magic moment of discovery lives on, and on, and on.
Charles R. Cross: firstname.lastname@example.org